Penn State at No. 21 Northwestern
9:00 A.M., ESPNU
Here’s how little respect the Pac-12 is getting this year from the College Football Playoff committee: a mid-level Big Ten team with two losses in the last three games by a combined 68 points is ranked ahead of two-loss UCLA. Were you also aware that the Big “Ten” hasn't had ten teams in, not kidding, 25 years? Say what you will about the Pac-12, but at least we can count. If you still want UCLA to have an outside chance at the Playoff, Penn State winning here would probably be good.
Northwestern 23, Penn State 20
No. 5 Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
9:00 A.M., ABC
Notre Dame -9
Can someone point to the win on Notre Dame’s resume that has the Irish within farting distance of the Playoff right now? As I see it, they haven’t beaten a single ranked team this year and were getting mollywhopped by Clemson until the 4th quarter when they scored just enough to lose in agonizing fashion. Notre Dame has, in order, beaten bad Texas, bad Virginia, bad Georgia Tech, bad UMass, fine Navy, fine USC, and fine Temple, and, again, lost to good Clemson. There is not a thing about their one-loss resume that should have them ranked above undefeated Baylor, Michigan State, TCU, Iowa, or above one-loss Florida or one-loss Stanford. But I get it — when you have a chance to reward Brian Kelly for his quality behavior and sideline demeanor, you might as well do it.
Notre Dame 28, Pittsburgh 20
No. 11 Stanford at Colorado
10:00 A.M., Pac-12 Network
All that said, Stanford is still more or less in control of its own Playoff destiny, as long as one of the Big Ten, ACC or Big 12 champions takes a loss. Stanford gets a chance for a statement win at the end of the season against those same Irish, and that’ll probably be a Playoff elimination match for both teams. Anyway, this week, Stanford gets to play the offense that UCLA allowed to look like Stanford last week, but we have a feeling that says more about UCLA’s defense than Colorado’s offense. The Cardinal didn’t do too well the last time they played before noon, but this is a different, better team, against different, worse competition.
Stanford 35, Colorado 20
No. 16 Florida State at No. 1 Clemson
12:30 P.M., ABC
Now, I don’t mean to be that guy again, since this is becoming a bit of a sermon — but why in the hell is Clemson the No. 1 team in the country? The Tigers have one good win, against a team that the Committee is probably overrating anyway. Otherwise, they haven’t beaten — or played! — a single ranked team this year. If Clemson wins on Saturday, the Tigers probably skate into the ACC title game, where they’ll have to deal with whatever sacrificial lamb ends up rising out of the Coastal division. Florida State is a beat up team that lost to really bad Georgia Tech two weeks ago, so it’s hard to picture the Tigers getting too much of a challenge at home on Saturday.
Clemson 34, Florida State 17
Arkansas at No. 18 Ole Miss
12:30 P.M., CBS
Ole Miss -10
Around this time last year is when Arkansas started to ruin the seasons of various SEC West teams, and the schedule certainly sets up for the Razorbacks to play spoiler again this year. Arkansas gets Mississippi, LSU, and Mississippi State all in a row, and if the Razorbacks can somehow win out, they can go a long way toward eliminating the SEC from Playoff contention (as long as Alabama takes another loss along the way as well). So, if you are a fan of all things good and holy, you should be a big Arkansas fan the rest of the way. Just ignore that you’ll also be rooting for Bret Bielema and you’ll be fine.
Arkansas 24, Ole Miss 21
Arizona State at Washington State
12:30 P.M., Fox Sports 1
Washington State -2.5
Todd Graham’s Best. Team. Ever. is probably going to go down as his Losingest. Team. Yet. at Arizona State and his Worst. Team. Since. Tulsa in 2009. The Sun Devils are staring down a final four games that involve this eminently losable game against the Cougars, a potentially brutal game against Washington, the rivalry matchup against Arizona, and a season-ending road trip against Cal that could, no joke, determine bowl eligibility for currently 4-4 Arizona State. You’d think the Sun Devils would be better with the amount of signs they steal.
Washington State 38, Arizona State 28
No. 9 Iowa at Indiana
12:30 P.M., ESPN
Talking to your kids about Iowa will be a lot easier once the Hawkeyes lose to winless-in-the-Big-“Ten” Indiana on Saturday.
Indiana 31, Iowa 28
No. 8 TCU at No. 14 Oklahoma State
12:30 P.M., FOX
The CFP Ranking Committee continues to treat the Big 12 like a pile of mysteriously wet toilet paper, throwing the various undefeated teams into the ranking garbage heap behind the top five. That basically means if one of these teams wins out, the Big 12 will get a team into the Playoff, but if they all beat up on each other, which looks likely at this point, it wouldn’t be a stunner to see the league shut out for a second season in a row. It’s fair enough at this point, I suppose, since no one in the Big 12 has played anyone, or even really tried to, outside of Oklahoma. Really assessing the quality of any of these teams right now is almost impossible, and that’s a stunning thing to say about the entire top chunk of a league at the beginning of November.
TCU 41, Oklahoma State 31
No. 23 UCLA at Oregon State
1:30 P.M., Pac-12 Network
If Oregon State wins, is beating UCLA enough of a win that the fans will rush the field?
UCLA 38, Oregon State 24
No. 7 Michigan State at Nebraska
4:00 P.M., ESPN
Michigan State -6
At some point, Michigan State being sort of garbage has to catch up with them. The Spartans haven’t really looked great this year at any point, but somehow are 8-0 with the only obvious thing standing in the way of an undefeated regular season a Nov. 21st matchup against also secretly trash-y Ohio State. Well, that is to say, unless 3-6 Nebraska has something to say about it! Man, Mike Riley has had such a bad start to his time at Nebraska that his Athletic Director gave him a vote of confidence last week — and this is his first season! Dude is in desperate need of a big win to quell the genial fury of thousands of polite Nebraskans, and we wouldn’t be completely stunned to see it happen on Saturday.
Nebraska 24, Michigan State 23
No. 12 Utah at Washington
4:30 P.M., FOX
Despite being ranked just one spot behind Stanford, the Utes’ path to the Playoff is a fair bit trickier. Utah needs to win out, yes, but the Utes also need to root for Stanford to win out and meet Utah in the Pac-12 Title game as a one-loss, top five team to give Utah a shot at a marquee win heading into selection time. In the meantime, Las Vegas truly hates Utah, making the Utes road dogs to a team that has had one credible offensive performance against a Power 5 opponent all season. I don’t understand it, and if I’ve learned anything from my picks this year, it’s that if I don’t understand something, I should go as far away from my gut instinct as possible.
Washington 21, Utah 17
No. 2 LSU at No. 4 Alabama
5:00 P.M., CBS
Fair warning: if this is a close Alabama win — something on the order of, oh, I don’t know, a 9-6 overtime victory for the Crimson Tide — there are going to a whole bunch of idiots, if both teams win out, clamoring for a rematch of the two in the College Football Playoff. To avoid that, we want one of two outcomes: either a blowout victory for Alabama, or a win for LSU. These teams are functionally the same, with dominant running games, great defenses, and passing attacks that closely resemble lower division high school football. Seven points seems like a lot.
Alabama 27, LSU 24
Arizona at USC
7:30 P.M., ESPN
Is everyone aware that Arizona is probably not going to win another game this year and will miss a bowl game a year after winning the Pac-12 South and going to the Fiesta Bowl? That’s a thing that is more than likely going to happen. USC, on the flip side, is riding high on a two-game winning streak, which means Trojan fans have come out in force to start explaining away all three of their losses (“…after all Stanford and Notre Dame are both in the top 11, and HEY LOOK OVER THERE [sweeps Washington into the trash can]”). This one should be ugly.
USC 45, Arizona 21
California at Oregon
7:30 P.M., ESPN2
Hey, so, Jared Goff has put together a pretty poopy three-game stretch here, but the best cure we’ve discovered this season for poor offensive play is playing Oregon’s defense. Goff should be able to feast on Oregon’s secondary and linebackers and rebuild some of his lost confidence. Oregon, on the other side, should be able to score at will against Cal. First team to generate a stop wins.
California 52, Oregon 45 (2 OT)
Last week ATS: 3-4-1, Season to date: 57-52-1, UCLA ATS: 7-1